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Heaven & Hell, Megadeth & Down Live In Ottawa

By Andrew Depedro, Ottawa Correspondent
Thursday, June 28, 2007 @ 7:14 AM

The Civic Center

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It took over 15 years, 7 lopsided Ozzfest lineups, hundreds of worthless flash-in-the-pan goatee metal bands with Melanie Chisholm’s wardrobe but none of the actual vocal range let alone the disposable income from royalty cheques to afford Sharon Osbourne’s $75,000 pay-to-play fee, 3 Ozzy Osbourne albums that were only good rather than great, 5 Dio albums that went largely unnoticed because “Crazy Train” wasn’t on them, 5 straight years of Ozzfest bypassing Canada completely, 200 Hispanic kids on Sharon Osbourne’s payroll armed with eggs during Iron Maiden’s southern California Ozzfest show 2 years prior, 2 new lukewarm Ozzy-fronted Black Sabbath songs, 3 new way-better Dio-fronted Black Sabbath songs, 9 abhorrently godawful recorded attempts from Kelly Osbourne at singing, 4 years of a reality TV show that had well lost its appeal 2 years into its initial broadcast, 2 guys named Jack Black and Kyle Gass persuading Dio to star in their first-full length movie, a dozen lawyers on Sharon Osbourne’s payroll negotiating band name rights, an eternity of offering myself as white slavery to nameless female KNAC.COM and CHEZ 106 DJ’s alike in a bid to hear “The Mob Rules” as a song request and an even longer eternity of fucking “Paranoid” and “Iron Man” on classic rock raDio but the verdict finally came in:

The Dio era of Black Sabbath had arrived.

Not just “arrived” in the sense that anarchy and chaos would engulf humanity if we had to be subjected to any more hippie nostalgia in the form of the desperate hipster’s phone call during the noon hour requesting to be taken back in time to the strains of “Generals gathered in their masses” at classic rock stations across the continent if not around the world for the 7 millionth time. But “arrived” in that it had been close to 20 years since either Dio, or the other members of Black Sabbath, set foot in Ottawa to play a concert together. Why such a long period of time elapsing between these two points in time is a mystery but insiders have cited various reasons ranging from the then-understandable nostalgia of Ozzy singing with Black Sabbath again in the 90’s to Dio preferring Gatineau’s titty bars to Ottawa’s but since Gatineau’s just too small to accommodate a Dio concert it’s cheaper to just play Montreal altogether (what can I say except some of my insiders have very far-fetched and questionable theories).

As for how and why Ottawa got offered a date on the tour in the first place, that was probably due to several local metal bands from all genres deciding that post-Ozzy Sabbath made for a good musical influence after all. As did that NHL strike from 2 years ago which had made so many empty stadium time available for so many big-name bands who hadn’t visited the city in years to find time in their schedules to play here, resulting in the trickle-down effect of word of mouth to spread further to more bands. Plus if the senseless death of Dimebag Darrell has taught us anything other than gun control laws and increased club security do not always yield the results achieved for total safety it’s also taught us and the hard rock community that the musicians we idolize are immortal after all and that any opportunity to revisit if not recreate a notable period in their career for the benefit of their new fanbase that missed out on that experience the first time around is always a good one to seize upon when it’s finally been made available.

And of course these concert reviews on KNAC.COM played a role in there somewhere. Speaking of which…

My journey from work to the show as well as said review was supposed to include a detour to Long & McWade’s music store on Alta Vista where Vinny Appice was hosting an in-store autograph session some 2 hours before the concert but as the bus driver managed to miss both of my connecting stops to the session I in turn missed the session altogether so from my last connecting stop at Billings Bridge which is a good 20-minute walk to the Civic Center and having no faith at all in public transit I walked to the stadium which was once home to Ottawa’s better-named CFL teams, arriving an hour early. That hasn’t happened to me in at least 12 years in my years of attending a major show anywhere. After substituting my regular work clothes for some T-shirts of the co-headliners and headliners I took to the floor section of the Civic Center where I had seen various bands ranging from Cinderella and Queensryche to the Cure and Midnight Oil in my youth play live when the stadium was the center hub for major tours coming to the city back then. Still small, still conveniently located downtown but now with a new paint job. And by the end of the first concert the ground floor section of the venue will be so awash with the smell of reefer the air alone will be able to cure glaucoma.

Down were the first band to take the stage which was a real no-frills setup save for a giant backdrop of the band’s logo. The first of approximately 3 million underground side projects that Phil Anselmo and Pepper Keenan that actually yielded not just one but two full albums of original music – and were said to have been in the process of recording a third album featuring “angry songs about Hurricane Katrina and Dimebag Darrell” before they landed a spot on this tour – got the crowd riled up as often with Anselmo’s frequent stage banter in between songs as they did with the 7 or so songs that they played that night although they could’ve easily had put in a good 3 more in the setlist if Phil had cut out the spoken word bit altogether although the guy in the Celtic Frost shirt sitting in the nosebleed section is now immortalized in history for having the coolness factor of his garment acknowledged by Phil from the stage that night. I’d say that he was well over that case of strep throat that forced Down to cancel some western dates on the Canadian leg of the tour at this point. That said, the band didn’t disappoint with the songs that they did play, with the likes of “Lifer” going out to Dimebag, “Temptation’s Wings” turning into an immediate shout-out to Jeff Waters who was in the midst of getting Annihilator ready to co-headline Trivium’s European tour at the writing of this review, “Hail The Leaf” played to an incoming barrage of rolled-up joints being thrown Phil’s way and mesmerizing versions of “Stone The Crow” and the closing number “Bury Me In Smoke” which, predictably, encouraged most of the floor crowd to light up before they were confronted by a majority of the militantly straight-edge moshing circle next to me to respect the rights of those resisting the temptation of drugs and alcohol to harm their bodies or else the potheads’ own bodies would get harmed by the sXe kids. Incidentally Rex Brown almost took my right eye out with a flying bass pick when I lifted my head up too soon while adjusting the flash on the disposable camera I bought to take photos of the show so if you’re questioning the quality of the photos that’s probably half the reason why they came out the way they did that night. With the other being that I got a bit too excited when it came time to press the flash button.

Ross Halfin I’m not. But Down brought a decent performance that night that even captured with good photography wouldn’t completely do it justice.

While quenching my thirst at the not-so-conveniently located beer garden in between sets I happen to notice that the music being played from the stage sounds a bit louder than usual. It turns out that Megadeth had taken the stage a bit earlier than I had expected with the opening number I half made out to be “Gears Of War” off of United Abominations as the opening song while I was quickly downing my beer and rushing down to the floor section to catch the rest of the song. With the band now officially half Canadian following the inclusion of Glen and Shaun Drover into the new lineup the crowd reception towards them was massive. Both members not only proved that they fit the profile of the perfect blueprint that Dave Mustaine had envisioned for this new lineup as they tore through the new songs like the aforementioned “Gears Of War” and “Washington Is Next!” but they also proved that they could bring their own identity to the classic Megadeth songs like “Wake Up Dead”, “Hangar 18”, “In My Darkest Hour”, “Peace Sells (But Who’s Buying)” and the blistering closing number “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due”. Despite having their stage time cut to about 40 minutes I felt that Megadeth put on a better show the second time around that I’ve seen them live than when I first saw them in Spain in 1995 (and this was even with the backstage meeting with the band back then). Maybe it had something to do with the band’s playing being as tight as ever from having to adapt to playing a shorter set thus accommodating as much of their catalogue into their setlist as possible. Or maybe since the Drover brothers were playing to a home audience the atmosphere made them more comfortable to branch out a bit more. Funnily enough, Ottawa is probably the fifth or sixth stop on this tour to my recollection in which Dave Mustaine has told the crowd that the Drover brothers were born and raised in. Regardless, with the new Megadeth lineup sounding tighter and as proficient as ever they’re the unofficial half-Canadian band to keep an eye out for in 2007 and, really, compared to them a lot of the usual Canadian bands with new material of their own on the raDio aren’t even near the caliber of this new lineup. Hopefully the next Megadeth concert here will give the Drover brothers some more ample room to branch out more.

Set list:

  • “Gears Of War”
  • “Wake Up Dead”
  • “Hangar 18”
  • “In My Darkest Hour”
  • “Washington Is Next!”
  • “A Tout Le Monde” (yes, the original version rather than the current thrown-together Cristina Scabbia duet known as “Set Me Free”)
  • “Hangar 18”
  • “Peace Sells (But Who’s Buying)”
  • “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due”
The main headliners in the guise of Heaven and Hell take the stage and I’m simply speechless save for the frequent shout-outs to hear “The Sign of The Southern Cross” and “Voodoo” in tonight’s set. As the lights dimmed to reveal a stage background looking not uncommon like the front yard of the Addams Family’s house while 3 arch-shaped screens hovered up above the crowd as well as the band taking the stage to the sounds of “After All (The Dead)” the rest of the crowd were also just as speechless as I was. No one dared to even think of shouting out “Paranoid” even if Ronnie James Dio’s the type of person to laugh off any comparisons to the early incarnation of the godfathers of all that is heavy and doomlike. Simply put: Everything about Heaven & Hell is immensely huge. The riffs, the legacy, the 15-year long gaps in between tours, the stage, Dio’s deep brooding voice which can tame large sea mammals from a ratio of several thousand kilometers away….they all commanded respect that night and got it.

As for the actual songs…holy fuck, they were absolutely stuDio-sounding perfect without any loss of their raw-sounding hard-hitting edge. I’d even go so far to say that their setlist truly epitomized the very spirit of what Black Sabbath had created in the 70’s. All of the songs ruled live but in particular “The Mob Rules”, “Children Of The Sea”, “Sign Of The Southern Cross” (with Geezer working the reverb dial on his bass to new levels, creating the song’s awesome warbling sound), “Voodoo”, the criminally-ignored-by-CHEZ 106 new song “The Devil Cried” (although a thousand hails to DJ Robin Harper for having my back when he agreed that the song was one of the band’s best and deserved as much airplay as the Ozzy-era songs did), “Die Young”, an awesome extended version of “Heaven and Hell” that featured some nicely-timed neat spotlight tricks to coincide each time Dio uttered heaven or hell and a slammin’ version of the closing number “Neon Nights” which I’m still not sure if it starts with a K and is about sword-wielding knights that, to me, were the best performances of the night.

As well, the screen images really highlighted much of the subject matter of the songs when they coincided with the songs. As far as I’m concerned now, images of desolate desert wasteland shown on a giant arch-shaped screen to the sounds of “Falling Off The Edge Of The World” will encourage me to be more environmentally aware than listening to any long-winded interview with David Suzuki or Al Gore as they blather on about the impending threat of Man Bear Pig raping our planet unless we trade in our SUV’s for public transit. Come to think of it, Man Bear Pig could very well end up inspiring Heaven & Hell to write a whole concept album about the environment and it would piss on anything Jack Johnson’s ever recorded. You could even call the album The Man Bear Pig Cried and have the album cover featuring Diana DeVille with dyed green hair driving a souped-up SUV running on ethanol with Sharon Osbourne strapped to the hood like a fresh kill of prime venison as it’s barreling down to the La Brea tarpits and at this point anymore I guarantee you would have people purchasing the album by the truckload simply because of the way that Dio’s name and legacy projected Black Sabbath to greater relevance. Compare that to the last 8 years of the Osbourne enterprise desperately trying to appeal to the average pasty-faced Limp Bizkit fanboy who’s convinced that heavy metal peaked in the mid-70’s while fearing for his heterosexuality the moment he hears Dio belt out “Sing me a song/You’re the singer” and it speaks volumes right there and then about where Black Sabbath’s legacy can only go after that. Thanks to Dio’s consummate performances both on record and at this show that night Heaven & Hell and everything associated with the name just got bigger in the eyes of all that witnessed it.

See this concert. Now.

Set list:

  • “E5150”
  • “After All (The Dead)”
  • “The Mob Rules”
  • “Children Of The Sea”
  • “Lady Evil”
  • “I” (yes, chunk, even I had the urge to Schemp hug myself when it was played)
  • “The Sign Of The Southern Cross”
  • “Voodoo”
  • “The Devil Cried”
  • Vinnie Appice drum solo
  • “Computer God”
  • “Falling Off The Edge Of The World”
  • “Shadow Of The Wind”
  • “Die Young”
  • “Heaven and Hell”

  • “Neon Nights”

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